Intimate Violence

Intimate Violence: Attacks Upon Psychic Interiority

JOSEPH SCALIA
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/scal11984
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  • Book Info
    Intimate Violence
    Book Description:

    Traditional analyses of domestic battery often point to the batterer's need for power and control to explain patterns of violent behavior. Offering a nonjudgmental and compassionate view of the interior life of the batterer, Intimate Violence moves beyond this explanation and transforms our understanding of the psychic origins of abuse. The book is divided into three main sections. The first assesses psychoanalytic understanding of the inner mechanisms of the batterer's violent behavior toward close family members, pointing to disruptions in the abuser's "narcissistic equilibrium." The second section looks more broadly at the ideas of "batterer" and "victim," and the ways these categories -- and the social stigma and support accorded respectively -- may impede healing and resolution. The third section addresses various treatment methods that promise permanent changes in batterers' behavior.

    Intimate Violence also deals frankly with the dynamics of the therapist/client relationship in battery cases, particularly transference and countertransference. How do therapists deal with feelings of revulsion for the batterer's behavior, or for the batterer him- or herself? How do they resist the very human urge within themselves to punish their clients? Scalia persuasively argues that these issues subtly undermine counseling, causing resistance to develop within both parties, and that a new approach to therapy is needed. His analysis suggests that "emotional communication" in the context of prolonged and deep psychoanalysis enables patient and practitioner alike to transcend cycles of recrimination and defensiveness.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50629-8
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-16)

    In recent decades society has become more open to an awareness of the disturbing existence, manifestations, and consequences of domestic or intimate violence, especially spouse abuse and child abuse. The historically powerless—wives and children—have been championed to the point that child protective services and battered women’s programs have proliferated, with abuse consciousness becoming pervasive in our culture (even if there is much controversy over what to consider abusive). The atrocities that were still commonplace a half-century ago are no longer tacitly condoned. Society now has laws in place—laws that are intelligently evolving—aimed at protection for the...

  5. PART 1 UNDERSTANDING THE BATTERER
    • CHAPTER ONE AFFECT REGULATION AND NARCISSISTIC EQUILIBRIUM
      (pp. 19-34)

      Rycroft defines affect as a “general term for feelings and emotions” (1968:3). And it is the ego that is responsible for the regulation and management of affect. Freud said of the ego that it “presents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions. . . . In its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse” (1923:25). This metaphor represents the greater strength of the batterer’s id, specifically his affects during battering, which become uncontainable.

      An...

    • CHAPTER TWO THE EXPERIENCE OF SELF AND OTHER
      (pp. 35-53)

      The advances in psychoanalysis over recent decades are so great that it is staggering and daunting for any one individual to attempt to assimilate them. Representative of some of these changes is the impact of the works of Margaret Mahler and Daniel Stern, elaborated by many authors.¹ Both theoreticians’ conflation of observational research and psychoanalytic theory have yielded rich material. While in some ways their contributions are divergent, I will attempt to synthesize them here insofar as they are germane to the understanding and treatment of domestically violent individuals.

      For over a decade ago now, Daniel Stern has compiled an...

    • CHAPTER THREE IDENTIFICATION WITH THE AGGRESSOR
      (pp. 54-66)

      Once the batterer finds himself in the throes of intolerably disrupted object constancy and core self dissolution, there are still additional inner steps that must occur for him to resort to domestic violence, as there are many other internal and external possibilities potentially open to a given subject at this juncture. Anna Freud (1966 [1936]) tells us of the defense mechanism, popularized through her writing, of identification with the aggressor, that “[once a] criticism is internalized, the offense is externalized. This means that the mechanism of identification with the aggressor is supplemented by another defense mechanism, the projection of guilt”...

  6. PART 2 THE POLITICS OF THE BATTERER-TREATMENT MOVEMENT
    • CHAPTER FOUR POLITICAL VERSUS CLINICAL DETERMINATION OF ABUSE AND OTHER ASSOCIATIONS
      (pp. 69-76)

      The term abuse has become a hackneyed and often violent-innocently (Bollas 1992) appropriated one.¹ In an effort to deproblematize what needs to remain a crucial term in our shared lexicon, I will expound on some of what I have found to be destructive overassignations, under-assignations, and dissemblingly unilateral assignations of this viscerally evocative word. Without considering these phenomena, we cannot heed Kohut’s exhortation and would instead utilize the term as a tool for blaming, as a dissimulated deployment of persecutory aggression. There are several ways in which we use the term abuse to ignore disquieting complexities and to defend against...

    • CHAPTER FIVE OUR UNWITTING PERSECUTION OF THE BATTERER AND OTHER FACILE CONVENIENCES
      (pp. 77-80)

      Our country’s efforts in the last couple of decades to raise social consciousness about domestic violence, while successful in that immediate aim, have yielded some disturbing, destructive, and pervasive consequences. Perhaps most egregrious, we have tended to perceive batterers as only men hitting women, too often recognizing with a split-off and unintegrated awareness that, for example, male and female homosexual partners are sometimes violent with each other, both fathers and mothers violently abuse their children, and wives sometimes hit their husbands for the same reasons that husbands sometimes hit their wives. We have tragically erred in adopting a monothetic depiction...

  7. PART 3 TREATMENT
    • CHAPTER SIX COUNTERTRANSFERENCE
      (pp. 83-99)

      In order to examine the batterer’s transference needs with open minds, we must first attend to our own countertransference resistances: there are good reasons many clinicians do not want to or cannot work with batterers.¹

      Our current state of grappling with legitimate feminist concerns still finds us largely identifying with the perceived oppressed and villainizing the perceived oppressor, a state of affairs that is further fueled by our freestanding witch-hunting propensities, the latter of which may exist in all of us to some extent, at least as a potential. Certainly as a mass body, the propensity is strong and easily...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN TRANSFERENCE
      (pp. 100-111)

      Freud’s (1912) classic “The Dynamics of the Transference” seems to provide an eternally accurate explanation of the source of transference. Of course, the matter is understood today to be even more complex than this, but what a beginning!

      Let us bear clearly in mind that every human being has acquired, by the combined operation of inherent disposition and of external influences in childhood, a special individuality in the exercise of his capacity to love—that is, in the conditions which he sets up for loving, in the impulses he gratifies by it, and in the aims he sets out to...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT JOINING TECHNIQUES
      (pp. 112-128)

      As stated earlier, Jacques was originally referred to me for treatment of his budding juvenile delinquency, his bullying of children smaller than himself, and for the purpose of helping him recover psychologically from a nearly life-ending incident at the hands of his stepfather. By way of a reminder, at fourteen he was already a therapy-savvy boy, having already proudly “defeated” an indeterminate number of therapists, both outpatient and inpatient, in his young life. Years later, he often referred to our early days together and how “cocky” and confident he felt upon referral that here was yet another therapist to be...

    • CHAPTER NINE WORKING THROUGH: A SYNTHESIS
      (pp. 129-140)

      A number of critical theoretical constructs have been reviewed throughout the body of this work. In terms of our understanding the patient’s battering, key among them are narcissistic equilibrium/disequilibrium; symbiosis, separation-individuation, and the defenses against problematic and overwhelming developmental failures pursuant to these epochs; the senses of core and subjective self and disruptions especially in the sense of core self; the quintessential and prerequisite defense of identification with the aggressor. Key among the reviewed concepts that pertain to treatment are countertransference, transference, joining techniques, confrontation, and interpretation.¹

      In this closing chapter I will attempt to demonstrate how we must alternatingly...

  8. APPENDIX THE POWER AND CONTROL WHEEL
    (pp. 141-142)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 143-152)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 153-158)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 159-164)